Saturday, September 27, 2014

my inpatient painting

i don't know why it has taken me a year and a half to share this painting i did while i was in inpatient. the only answer i have is life is a process - and i must've needed time to process this part of my journey. i have kept the painting in a drawer with other things i accumulated from my time there. almost immediately i gave a copy of it as a present to my dear friends s and a. sometimes when i am over at their homes i look at the painting and go "wow, that is so cool and it looks familiar - oh ya! i did that!"

after seeing it at a's home yesterday i decided that now was the time to frame it and hang it in my room. i'm not crazy about the frame, but it'll do for now. mostly i want to talk about what it represents to me.

when i went into inpatient for suicidal thoughts and depression, i was in a really low place. if you can for a minute - go to a sad, low place, and stay there. what i saw during those days and for months (8-9) after is all grey in my memory. i was in inpatient over the weekend so there was less going on, which was fine for anxious me. when the recreational therapist came in on saturday she said we were going to be doing painting. i love painting but hadn't done it in a long time. i was overwhelmed at first with thoughts of what was i going to paint, how was it going to turn out, was it going to be bad, and then i decided to just paint something simple - a tree.

i painted it intentionally in blocks of color because up to that point in my life i had had things scheduled in 'blocks' ex: 2 years in high school, followed by 2 years in community college, followed by 2 years at a university, followed by what was supposed to be an 18 month mission, and then my life started falling apart and the lines got blurred and black entered - hence the black outline and the black blocks and the mixing of colors. the bottom (trunk) of my tree is more blocks - how i had my life planned - after 18 month mission, 2 years grad school, then get married, work and have babies, and life would be set. but the leaves on my tree are more flowing - how my life has actually turned out - with sadness and adversity - waves and bends and unexpected twists and turns. but all in a beautiful tree. there are some brown spots and some black spots and some dark spots but without those spots i wouldn't be able to appreciate the yellow and the red and the purple and the other magnificent colors god has blessed me with.

in my own way in inpatient i think it was my first step at practicing a dbt skill i didn't know about - radical acceptance. i was beginning to accept my life the way it was - accepting reality on reality's terms. i didn't like it, but i didn't have to, i just had to accept it. i wanted to create something beautiful and meaningful out of my suffering - and that's what this painting represents to me. meaning. purpose. something greater than myself. that i'm not going through all of this for kicks and giggles. that there is a divine plan and my suffering is part of it.

i have also kept my bracelet from inpatient. some things are just too hard to give up. parting with it seemed like parting with part of myself. i finally had an idea of what to do with it!

i put it in a plastic display case so i can see and remember where i have come from and all the progress i have made since then. i put it next to a sign i got from natural life which says "you are loved." that was not by accident.

my journey continues. i grow each day. i'm a learning, progressing, succeeding individual. and so are you.

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